Lemon Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes
What’s wrong with life giving you lemons?
How else are you going to make deliciously decadent lemon raspberry swirl cupcakes? I guess I could make lemonade, or even a whiskey sour. Hey, that’s not a bad idea! But I’d much rather devour a sweet lemony cupcake with little swirls of raspberry sauce. To make it even better, let’s top it with a lemon cream cheese frosting, a fresh raspberry and my favorite…candied lemon zest!
While this recipe actually starts with a white cake mix, you’d never know by the time we ‘zazz it up!! Based on the common “doctored” cake mix recipe, WASC (aka White Almond Sour Cream Cake), this version replaces the almond flavor with freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest.
Step 1: Prepare the Cupcake Batter
I’ve been using a version of this recipe for years and I’ve found lots of ways to tweak it into almost any delicious flavor combination you can think of. Once you get the hang of the base recipe, you can play around with different versions too! I don’t even read the recipe anymore because I have it memorized but I do always have a little song in my head when I’m throwing it together: “Cake mix, flour, sugar, salt” and then the second verse, “water, eggs, flavor, sour cream.” I know it sounds kind of silly, but hey, it works for me!
What I’m getting at here is that this recipe is really easy to throw together. Start with the dry ingredients (cake mix, flour, sugar, salt) into your stand mixer and mix just until blended. Then, measure your wet ingredients in a glass measuring cup (water, eggs, flavor, sour cream) and pour them into the dry ingredients. Turn your mixer on slow for 30 seconds, and then on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Voila! Mix ready to go into your cupcake pans (lined with liners, of course).
As you’ll see from the recipe below, we use a white cake mix, all-purpose flour, granulated sugar and table salt. For the wet ingredients, I replaced about half of the water from the WASC base recipe with freshly squeezed lemon juice and then add the finely chopped zest of one lemon. I also find it important to use a good quality vanilla or better yet, vanilla bean paste.
Step 2: Prepare the Raspberry Sauce and Swirl it in, Baby!
For the raspberry sauce that gets swirled in, I like to use equal parts of raspberry preserves and fresh raspberries. I push them through a sieve to remove any seeds (no one wants seed in their teeth!) before adding small drops into the lemon batter.
Then using a toothpick or a wood skewer, gently draw the raspberry preserves around the lemon batter to create a swirled marble effect:
Now they can be popped in the oven at 350 Fahrenheit for 18 minutes. Once they have cooled, you can take them out of the cupcake pan and they’re ready to be frosted!
Step 3: Prepare your Frosting
For these cupcakes, I thought a slightly heavier frosting would go well. I chose a cream cheese frosting with hints of lemon zest as I felt like a Swiss Meringue Buttercream would be too “fluffy.” Again, using a basic recipe and adding extra ingredients to ‘zazz it up! A small variation of fresh lemon juice and zest added to regular cream cheese icing proved to be just perfect!
Step 4: Prepare Your Candied Lemon Zest
This is really one of the easiest elements you can add to desserts, but everyone will be so impressed! It’s like you’re this amazing dessert chef, but really all you had to do was throw some lemon zest into a saucepan with some granulated sugar and a little water and turn on the heat…as soon as the sugar melts down and it starts to look a little “syrup-y” you slap it onto a piece of waxed paper with more granulated sugar. Boom. Done! Now you have this delicious and beautiful garnish for your finished cupcakes!
Step 5: Putting it all together
I like to use a large opening round piping tip to pipe two circles of the frosting onto each cupake. Then just place one fresh raspberry and some of your candied lemon zest and you are ready to impress. I promise, this is easy, fun and delicious!
~PIN IT for later!